Dion Manley made Ohio state history last Thursday when he was sworn into Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools’ board of education, becoming the first openly trans public official in the state.
“I really think Gahanna deserves a lot of credit,” Manley told the Columbus Dispatch. “They’ve been inclusive and open as a district. I’ve seen that in the years I’ve lived here, and the voters choosing to be a voice for diversity and moving forward is really special.”
In November, Manley was voted onto the school board – located in the Columbus suburb of Gahanna, Ohio – along with Sue Horn and Kara Coates.
He was a part of a historic election night for LGBTQ candidates. According to the LGBTQ Victory Fund, 83 candidates they endorsed won their respective races during last year’s November elections. As the newly elected officials take office, the U.S. will have over 1000 LGBTQ+ people serving in elected office for the first time.
“The victory is especially significant given efforts by anti-trans activists across the nation to target trans students at school board meetings and the surge in anti-trans bill introduced in state legislatures,” a Victory Fund press release said of Manley’s win, making him only the fifth trans man to win an election in the country.
Manley didn’t always plan on running for the position but ended up throwing his hat in the race for the teachers of his daughter Lila, a high school senior who has been in the school system since kindergarten.
“They’ve done so much for my daughter that I will do anything to show my appreciation and give back in what small way I can,” he told the Dispatch.
According to Manley, being trans did not hold him back in the election.
“People here that know that I’m transgender… I’m a great dad and that’s what they see and that’s what matters to them,” he told CBS affiliate WBNS. https://www.10tv.com/embeds/video/530-47a3377d-12f4-4222-a5ae-c5c52b2ebd0f/iframe
He added: “The greatest joy of my life has been raising my daughter, so I want to be remembered as a great dad, community member and I happen to be trans.”
In a Facebook post, Manley acknowledged his “amazing” new colleagues and said: “I believe now is the time for people to get involved! We have an important role to play in making all students feel welcome, safe and supported plus safeguard the continued success of our schools.”